How a Culture of “Giving Back” Benefits Your Business

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“Giving back to the community” is usually code for tax deductible donations or canned food drives.  It’s not something that’s expected to be part of business culture.  In fact, it is an important aspect of a healthy culture.

When giving back is an expected part of your culture, you will find plenty of opportunities to give back in ways that benefit your business.  Take, for example, the case of recruiting.

Most companies invest quite a bit of time and effort in recruiting.   However, almost all of them waste a good chunk of that investment.  Companies with a culture of giving back to the community know that giving feedback to candidates benefits not only the candidate, but also increases their recruiting performance, and improves employee engagement – all while helping the talent community grow.

Don’t Waste Money
You are collecting information about every candidate throughout the interview process, right?  Then don’t just put it away in a file “for legal reasons.”  Turn it into actionable feedback for the candidate, whether or not you decide to hire the person.  Point out weaknesses that your team has identified and even make suggestions on how to correct them.

Just saying “sorry, we’ll pass” is the worst thing you can do for a candidate.  She is not only feeling rejected, but has no idea as to why.   She spent time and effort going through your interview process and in the end got nothing out of it.  It leaves her feeling cheated and she probably won’t be saying nice things about your company anytime soon.

By giving her actionable feedback, you can help the candidate develop, give back to the community, and build a good reputation.  For example, according to Gerry Crispin, even among the 100 American companies most admired for their HR practices, 70% of these companies do not provide unselected job applicants with any feedback.

So the simple act of giving candidates good feedback will make your company stand out.

Turn Rejected Candidates into Evangelists
Giving back is built into our culture.  At Nearsoft, we give every candidate very specific feedback.  In addition, we suggest books, blogs, and other online resources to help them improve weak areas.

For the most promising candidates, we even have a program we call “Office Hours” where we offer to mentor a candidate through their learning process.  If a candidate made a good enough impression on the interviewers, one or two of them are usually happy to invest their time to help them out.

Everybody benefits from this.  Our developers act as mentors and this helps them to solidify what they know, by having to explain it to others.  The candidate gets an experienced peer who can help direct and accelerate her learning.  For the company, the act of giving back promotes employee engagement.

From the business point of view, it lowers our cost of recruiting.  That’s because instead of throwing the “almost ready” candidate back in the deep water, we keep her close to us, near the shore, so to speak, where it will be a lot less costly to bring her back into the fold, after she’s shored up her knowledge and gained experience.

Even if we never hire this person, she will walk away with a very positive image of our company. In many cases, they become our most ardent evangelists.

Excuses, Excuses
Companies that don’t “get” giving back usually respond with a boilerplate excuse, like, “We are a big company and can’t do this for every candidate.”

Well, more than others out there, big companies 1) can afford to give back, 2) have the fiduciary duty to leverage their (recruiting) investment, and 3) have the moral responsibility.  Not giving feedback to candidates means that your “big” company is failing on all these counts.

In other words, a failure to build “giving back” into your “big” company culture is costing you big time.  According to an Alexander Mann Solutions study:

77 percent of job seekers are likely to tell people either within their profession or friends (or both) if they have a negative experience when applying for a job.

Do Good, Do Well
Baking “giving back” into your culture pays off.  Recruiting is just one example.  Once this becomes part of the expected behavior, people will find other opportunities that will benefit your business as well as the community.

Giving back to the talent community in the form of detailed, actionable feedback to candidates is a good example of this:

  • You give candidates the tools to grow personally and become more valuable contributors to society.
  • It lowers your cost of recruiting in the long run because these candidates are easier to bring back into the fold when they are ready.
  • Your current employees learn by teaching and this enhances their engagement and job satisfaction.
  • It lowers your sourcing costs because each candidate you help is more likely to recommend your company to their peers.

All of these benefits come by sharing the information that you’ve already collected.

Your Turn

Do you keep track of the information generated throughout the recruiting process?  How do you use it? If you don’t share this information with candidates, why not?  (If you do, let us know about it in the comments, below.)

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Matt Perez has been an engineering and business executive for over 20 years. He has worked in rapid growth environments throughout his career in small businesses, as well as in large, public companies. He helped raise close to $50M in VC in investments as a co- founder of three start-ups. Matt is co-founder of Nearsoft, Inc, a successful company that helps its clients grow their development teams with engineers in Mexico.

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